Beaching and diving in Tofo
01.07.2012 25 °C
I’ve spent the past four days at Praia do Tofo, a delicious slice of blue Indian Ocean bordered by an arc of white sand. Getting here was an adventure though!
We woke up early Wednesday to catch the chapa at 5am from our hostel. A chapa is a van crammed with as many seats as possible; it’s essentially the same as a tro-tro in Ghana or a matatu in Kenya, except in those countries there are laws on how many people can be inside at one time…not the case in Mozambique! Our chapa was so crowded with us and our bags that I was basically holding up all the bags every time we moved to prevent being crushed by them! We were taken to the main chapa station in Maputo and herded onto a slightly bigger one. Then we waited…and waited…and waited…for the chapa to be full enough to leave. We finally left at around 7. Tofo is only 400 Km from Maputo but the journey takes a long time…partly because the roads aren’t the best and partly because a chapa stops a LOT along the way. We were hot, dusty, I couldn’t feel half my lower body…when we finally arrived in Tofo at 2. After a long drive down a winding sandy road we reached our hostel and practically kissed the door we were so happy to be there!
My hostel is very well located, right on the beach, with lots of little thatched huts and dorms. We spent Wednesday playing in the ocean - it’s nice and warm with lots of surf - and drinking celebratory beers. The next day I got busy diving! Tofo is known for its big fish - whale sharks, manta rays, and dolphins are all frequently spotted, so I’ve been looking forward to diving here for a long time. Since it’s been 2 ½ years since my last dive I had to do a refresher course Thursday morning before heading out for my first few dives Thursday afternoon. We saw sea turtles, tons of colourful fish, blue stingrays and electric eels! Friday I was up early for my very first deep dive. I’m certified to go to 18m, but I decided to earn an extra certification here that will let me go even deeper. I had to study Thursday night and take a little test all about deep diving on Friday before the dive. Our maximum depth Thursday morning was 30m (100 feet!) and when we got to the bottom my instructor Steve had me do some simple math problems to make sure I hadn’t gotten Nitrogen Narcosis (caused by the pressure at deep dives; it’s not dangerous by itself but makes you act drunk so you can end up doing stupid things). I passed my math test and we set off to explore the reef. We saw a lot more cool fish including angler fish, which sit on the rock with a glowing ball on their head waiting for smaller fish to come close, and even saw a few dolphins!
I spent the rest of Friday on the beach with Jack and Kate. We found this amazing place for dinner - very cheap, we were the only non-locals in the place, and there wasn’t anything vegetarian on the menu (very typical of Mozambique…I’ve had a lot of just french fries for dinner) the waiter went out and got the ingredients to make me something! It was the same thing I’ve eaten since I got here - spiced beans with rice - but it was the best version I’ve had!
Yesterday morning I was up early again for my last dive in Tofo. It was probably the best dive I’ve ever been on! It was well offshore, about a 45 minute boat ride, and when we got in we realized that the visibility was far better than anything I’ve ever experienced - about 15m! Right when we got to the bottom we spotted two white-tipped reef sharks swimming near us and we were then greeted by potato bass, a gigantic fish about half the size of me who swam slowly over and stared at us. So cool! The current was really strong so we just drifted along under water, and we came to an overhang where we hung on to the rock and watched as bright yellow, orange, purple, and blue fish swam above, around, and below us! It was amazing, some of the fish are so beautiful, with lots of different colours, polka dots, and even swirls. At the end of the dive we even came across a group of four grey reef sharks!! Awesome! On our way back to Tofo we even got to see some dolphins playing in the water! It was so cool.
I spent the afternoon lounging on the beach. Kate, Jack, and I got boogie boards and played for awhile in the surf, and then sat with our feet in the sea watching the tide go out. It was the perfect end to my Tofo getaway!
Today Jack, Kate and I went to Vilanculos, a town around 250 km north of Tofo. We left at 5am, had to go on three different modes of transport and got here at 2pm...but that adventure deserves a blog post of its own!